Style Self: A Real Gem

Isabella Kaplan will take jewelry over swank threads any day.




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photograph by Tom Nutter

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 Some women won’t go anywhere without their favorite lipstick hidden in their handbags.

Others secretly nip and tuck their clothing to conceal mini flaws—a sunspot on the upper arm or a maverick vein that loops around the knee.

And who hasn’t inconspicuously weaved pins through fabric to make a garment more flattering?

Fess up—your hidden style secrets are the elements that perfect your look.

But Isabella Kaplan has nothing to hide. In fact, she lays everything out on the kitchen table in her Dover home.

“I’m not all about clothes,” she says, with an apologetic shrug. “I like to wear those—what are they called?—cropped pants?”

She cocks her espresso eyes to the right and tries to tease out the elusive name given to the black pants that demurely swish above her ankle.

“Yes, crop pants,” she says decisively. “But what I love most is jewelry.”

This fact prominently scrolls across her collarbone, encircles her wrist and dots her ears. Kaplan, founder of Isabella Designs, is a jewelry fiend.

Not an alchemist, but close: Kaplan is certified in precious metal clay, which transforms into silver after it’s heated.

From her home-based operation, Kaplan custom designs jewelry for clients. It also retails at For Dreamers Gallery in Dover. (Check out

“Jewelry adds a personal statement to any outfit,” she says.

Not accustomed to addressing her style (she is usually more concerned with that of her clients), she says it’s “casual, comfortable.”

“I’m not a big shoe girl, but I did recently get new Skechers,” she says. “They’re comfortable. I’m lovin’ them.”

For classy evenings, she prefers pants, adding chunky jewelry to create her signature look. “I like big, semi-precious stones like amethyst or smoky quartz,” she says.

The natural beauty keeps her skin in shape with daily moisturizer from Mary Kay or Estée Lauder. Kaplan is ready after foundation, lipstick, mascara and 20 minutes with a flat iron to tame her curly locks.

When she does need threads, she frequents Banana Republic and Ann Taylor.  She also admits she’s a recovering Coach addict.

“If I could just splurge, I think I’d go for a pair of those…” She’s searching for a name again. “…You know,” she says, “the shoes from ‘Sex and the City.’”

Then it hits her.

“Manolo Blahniks!” she says triumphantly. “I’d like to see what that’s all about. But if you let me loose in a bead show, I’d just go crazy.”               —Amy Kates


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